Snapshots and Short Notes

Images and Messages of Early Twentieth-Century Photo Postcards

978-1-57441-795-1 Cloth
8.5 x 11. 304 pp. 400 color illus.
Pub Date: 06/15/2020
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Snapshots and Short Notes examines the photographic postcards exchanged during the first half of the twentieth century as illustrated, first-hand accounts of American life. Almost immediately after the introduction of the generic postcard at the turn of the century, innovations in small, accessible cameras added black and white photographs to the cards. The resulting combination of image and text emerged as a communication device tantamount to social media today.

Postcard messages and photographs tell the stories of ordinary lives during a time of far-reaching technological, demographic, and social changes: a family’s new combine harvester that could cut 40 acres a day; a young woman trying to find work in a man’s world; the sight of an airplane in flight. However, postcards also chronicled and shared hardship and tragedy—the glaring reality of homesteading on the High Plains, natural disasters, preparations for war, and the struggles for racial and gender equality.

With a meticulous eye for detail, painstaking research, and astute commentary, Wilson surveys more than 160 photographic postcards, reproduced in full color, that provide insights into every aspect of life in a time not far removed from our own.

Published by University of North Texas Press